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Thousands of Greeks protest soaring cost of living

Ten thousand demonstrators led by Communist-affiliated union PAME rallied outside parliament against spiking inflation in Athens, Greece, on February 26,2021. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of people have joined union protests in several cities across Greece to denounce the soaring cost of living.

Some 10,000 demonstrators gathered outside parliament in the capital Athens on Saturday to protest spiking inflation, police said, as the government vowed to boost emergency support for households.

"We are a river of anger and outrage," said a protester. "We claim our right to a respectable life... we say a thunderous 'no' to the anti-popular policies that have torn apart our lives."

Greek inflation in January surged to 6.2 percent in an annual comparison amid fears that Russia's military operation in Ukraine would further push up energy and food prices.

According to official data, electricity prices in January jumped by 56 percent, fuel by 21.6 percent and natural gas by a whopping 156 percent.

The cost of living "could on average increase by over two percent in 2022," Panagiotis Petrakis, a professor of economics at the University of Athens said.

The government has already spent 44 billion euros ($50 billion) in supporting businesses and low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Late Friday, Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said Athens would conclude an early repayment of bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and use the interest rate savings "to support households and businesses."

Greece is aiming 4.5-percent economic growth this year and expects additional revenue from the vital tourism industry.

Tourism accounts for around a quarter of the Greek economy. Receipts in 2021 stood at over 10 billion euros.

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